Type display on Windows

Yesterday, the Safari 4 beta died on my work PC, taking with it a slew of tabs with no mechanism to restore them. I am so accustomed to Firefox and Chrome saving my sessions that I really take that for granted, but it is so awful that I resumed using Chrome as my default browser on my PC. (At home, I move back and forth between Firefox and Camino.)

No sooner did I fire up Chrome than I was reminded how awful the type display on Windows is. Look at the three samples below:

Type rendered in Chrome using XP and no ClearType
The same thing, with ClearType enabled
And finally, the same text from Safari 4 in Windows.

Seriously, it is 2009 – how is it possible that Apple can manage to display type on a Windows machine more attractively than the native rendering routines? Wikipedia says ClearType is now 10 years old – yet type looks better on my iPod touch than it does on my PC, for crying out loud!

Even more amazing, when Apple first released Safari for Windows, was the outcry by so many users that Apple made the type look blurry, which is (I assume) the reason Safari 4 brags about native rendering as the default.

In my book, this is further proof that the Windoze world does not deserve a satisfying, aesthetically coherent computing experience. Thank heavens I can go home and return to my Mac at the end of the day.

WWDC raises iPod touch accounting issue

From today’s WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs just referred again to the fee that will be charged to iPod touch users for features iPhone users receive for free, which reminds me of the post I wrote up in January about the same issue with the Apple TV. If you’re curious about why this practice is followed, please go here for the relevant background.

Warms my heart…

Apple announced its quarterly results, and there are all sorts of odd reactions (good and bad). What sticks out to me is the amazing growth in Mac sales. Just wonderful to see years old trends gathering momentum and producing results like the chart below. Image from one of the many posts I’ve read on this, but I regret to say I forget which. It’s clearly not mine, since I wouldn’t make a 3D-column view, that’s for sure.


iPod touch/Apple TV upgrade fees and accounting

In today’s Macworld keynote address, Steve Jobs indicated that the new features that were being offered to iPod touch users would cost $20 as an upgrade, whereas the new Apple TV features were being offered free. Now I own neither of these gizmos, but if I did, I’d be very excited about the free upgrade to one and I’d be annoyed about the fee for the other. So why is this?

A year ago, when Apple enabled 802.11n functionality in its Macintosh computers that had been sold as 802.11g machines, Apple charged $1.99 for the ‘enabler.’ The explanation at the time was that this was to satisfy some accounting rules under GAAP. One article covering the issue is Cnet’s Apple’s 802.11n accounting conundrum. From that article, we learn:

…because the company has already recognized all the revenue from the sales of those computers, it has to now charge customers at least a nominal fee in order to establish the value of its software upgrade and satisfy an obscure accounting regulation known as SOP 97-2, said Fox.

More recently, Cnet has discussed Apple’s accounting as it relates to the Apple TV and the iPhone in the article Accounting for iPhone, Apple TV’s future. The idea there is that Apple will sell those using a subscription model to account for the associated revenue, enabling them to roll out upgrades for free with no need for fees like the 802.11n enablers.

I can only conclude from this that the iPod touch is not handled via subscription modeling, making a fee necessary. That much makes sense to me, but why Apple feels compelled to charge $20 for something that they could have just as easily charged $1.99 puzzles me. From the short-term, obviously they want the revenue of the higher fee. From a longer term point of view, high fees remind Apple’s potential customers that early adopters are not appreciated at Apple. If you create in your customers the doubt that you will treat them fairly, at the very least you postpone sales and possibly you lose some of them altogether.

[For some older thoughts of the whole ridiculous kerfluffle and whining associated with Apple’s early iPhone price reduction, see here.]

Update: via this post on TUAW, I see that DF’s Gruber speculated about this in October.

A little cold, Macfixit water for the MacBook Air love-fest…

From MacBook Air raises troubleshooting questions

Apple’s new MacBook Air is svelte-as-can-be, but the device’s limitations and lack of traditional components raise some interesting troubleshooting/general questions:

  • What happens when the battery loses capacity or runs out? The battery is apparently not user-replaceable. This means you can’t swap out batteries to extend operating life, and you’ll likely need to seek authorized service to get the battery replaced when it inevitably loses capacity or fails altogether.
  • How do you perform an emergency boot? What if you can’t startup from the built-in drive and need to boot from a separate volume? The MacBook Air lacks an optical drive, meaning you can’t boot from an inserted DVD like the Mac OS X Leopard install disc unless you purchase the $100 optional, external SuperDrive. It’s not yet clear whether the MacBook Air can boot from an optical drive in another Mac via the “Remote Disc” function, but we doubt it.
  • How will you apply major Mac OS X updates? If you can’t boot from an installer disc, how will you be able to install the next major iteration of Mac OS X? Traditionally, Mac OS X installers have required the system to boot from the disc.
  • How will you use target disk mode? The MacBook Air lacks a FireWire port. This means you can’t use FireWire target disk mode — an invaluable troubleshooting tool.
  • How will you NetBoot? The MacBook Air lacks a built-in Ethernet port, so NetBoots won’t be possible by default, precluding yet another option for emergency boots. You’ll need to purchase the $20 [sic] USB Ethernet adapter.

For the first item, take a look at Michael Gartenberg’s battery comments here. It is points two, three, and four that speak more loudly to me.

Last minute Apple hype getting nutty

Wired’s Gadget Lab ‘breaks’ the following story, with the accompanying placeholder graphic:

Breaking: Apple Insider Leaks Ultra-Portable Details


MacBook Air?

All sorts of great speculation to build on the general Apple ultra-thin sub-notebook hype that I have been grooving on for months now.


MacBook Air | 9 to 5 Mac
MacBook Air

Previous posts here on this topic: here, here, here, here, here, and here. It’s a great rumor, even if it’s only a rumor.